Final Day of Midwinters

By clay - Posted on 21 February 2010

Today was the final day of the Midwinter East Championships, and once again, we sailed in very light winds.  We headed out for an hour earlier start time, but we were greeted with no wind.  After a few hours of postponement, a light south-westerly breeze filled in allowing for two quick races before the 2 PM cut-off time.

Before launching today, I had an interview with SailGroove which you can see here:

Sailing Videos on Sailgroove



In the first race, I had an ok start at the pin, but was able to tack over and cross most of the fleet in a good lane.  The entire fleet quickly flopped onto port and headed to the right.  At the end of the first beat, a right-hand shift allowed Paul Goodison, a young guy from Mexico, and Emil Cedergardh to jump to a pretty nice lead.  I was left in the 4-15 pack.  I stayed in the same position for the reach and first run and took the gate mark towards the right hand side of the next upwind beat.  As I sailed out on port I continued to get headed, and I was able to pick off a few boats who went left.  On the final downwind, the fleet mixed with the Laser Silver group, making it difficult to find clear air.  I lost Charlie Buckingham who had a great run by sailing high and away from the masses, and held on to a 9th place finish for the rest of the race.

In the second race, I had an awesome start near the boat and quickly tacked to port, heading for the right corner.  Jesper Stalheim and Kristian Ruth were also with me as we led the group right.  The three of us looked pretty good on the rest of the fleet, but we were overtaking the Radial Silver fleet so it got a little hectic finding clear air.  I stayed pretty far right, and I was able to make it to the windward mark in 5th place behind Jesper, Kristian, Paul Goodison, and Ivan Taritas.  I stayed in 5th on the first reach and had a great first run to catch all the way up to 2nd by the leeward mark, a few boat lengths behind Jesper.  We headed out to the right and Jesper tacked left to play the middle.  Some pressure came in on the right, and I was able to move past Jesper and into first place.  I stayed in first for the rest of the race and finished the event with a solid bullet.

You can watch highlights from the last race, compliments of SailGroove, here:

Sailing Videos on Sailgroove


So with a 9-1 today, I was able to move up to 6th place overall, only a few points behind 4th.  With exception to the first day, the event was sailed in pretty light conditions, which is one part of my game that I'd like to work on.  I took away some valuable lessons and can hopefully work on them a little before my next event in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, at the end of March.

Final Results

Light Air Day Three

By clay - Posted on 20 February 2010

Two more races were sailed today, the first day of gold fleet, on the third day of the Laser Midwinters.  We headed out for an 11 AM start in almost glass, hoping that when the breeze filled in we would be on the course and ready to go.  After an hour and a half postponement in no wind, we finally got our first race off.  During a general recall, ten boats were blackflagged, and in the race that actually started, another five or so were added to that list.  With fifteen boats on the sidelines, the fleet was only 2/3 the normal size.

I had a great start as the pin end boat and sailed off towards the left.  I tacked over, crossing most of the fleet, and then played the middle left with Mike Leigh up the first beat.  He rounded right ahead of me at the mark, and we reached towards the outer loop.  On the first downwind, the breeze died to almost nothing.  People were reaching, sailing by the lee, and doing many gybes, just trying anything to get down the course.  After a 20 minute drift to the leeward mark, I rounded in 3rd behind Mike and Emil Cedergardh and headed left.  Again, we played the middle left, but right at the end, James Espey (IRL), Juan Maegli (GUA), and Ricardo Montemayor (MEX) got back in the mix by going further left.  I passed Emily, but lost a lot of distance to those three rounding in 2nd once again.  On the shortened downwind, James and Juan passed me by soaking low, but I was able to pass Juan back on the reach by staying on the rhumb line when he sailed high.  I maintained 3rd on the final short beat to the finish for a solid first race.

In the second race I got a great start at the boat and tacked to the right on the long tack.  The fleet quickly flopped over but started to fall into me a bit.  I was looking really good leading the fleet to the right hand side of the course.  About 3/4 of the way up though, I felt the breeze start to shift persistently left just like yesterday, so I came back a little early, taking some sterns and consolidating to the middle.  The move ended up being smart as I rounded in about 15th and the guys I was near were in the high 20s at the first mark, but it was frustrating that the right didn't hold like I thought it would.  I stayed in about 15th until the next windward leg when I played the middle left and the right came in with a little more pressure.  It was really light and choppy on the second beat and the guys on the right just had a little more pressure which made the world of a difference when steering through the chop.  About 10 guys passed me by heading right on that leg, and I found myself in the low 20s at the last windward mark.  I passed one and lost one on the downwind leg, passed one more on the reach, and had a great last upwind leg to catch three more boats to limp in in 17th place.

It was a pretty tough day, with patience and clear air being very important.  Tomorrow we'll have up to three more races (but likely only two with a 2:00 PM cutoff time).  The forecast is a little better with 10 knots forecasted from the South.


Day Two

By clay - Posted on 19 February 2010

We started the second day of the Laser Midwinters East with a one hour postponement on shore.  The Radials left the shore on time, so I think the Race Committee's thinking was to let the Radials launch and start first before sending us out.  Anyway, we headed out an hour later for two more races.

After many course reconfigurations and general recalls, we finally got our first race off at about 1 PM.  Our first race was started under a general recall, and I have to admit I was a little hesitant to push the line.  I started in the middle and quickly tacked out right, ducking a few boats, but finding a clean lane.  I sailed to the right in nice pressure and tacked back left, crossing the guys I had just ducked.  I looked really good and connected a few puffs at the top of the beat to round in first.  On the first downwind, I maintained my lead until right at the end.  At the bottom of the leg, the wind died and the guys right behind me carried some pressure down to me.  I lost a few boats right at the end and rounded the gate headed left in 4th place.  Unfortunately right as we rounded the breeze went about 20 degrees right and a handfull of boats on the right instantly were ahead of me.  I played the left, hoping for a chance to gain back the boats I lost, but ultimately rounded the mark in 11th.  I closed some distance on the fleet but lost one more boat on the last downwind.  On the last reach the breeze died, and I was able to pass two boats by soaking low at the end of the leg.  On the final upwind, I played some shifts and excuted some tacks well to pass two more boats.  Andreas Geritzer and Paul Goodison were black flagged, bumping me up two more spots to 6th in the race.

After sitting around for a long time, we got our second race off in a dying breeze.  The breeze looked pretty uniform around the course, but it had been shifting right as we were waiting.  WIth that, I played the middle right up the first beat and looked really good half way up.  I was probably in 5th crossing back to the middle of the course when I got a header.  I noticed some more breeze out right, so I hitched farther right.  Big mistake.  The next thing I knew, the fleet was in a big 20 degree left shift and guys I was very easily crossing were lifting off me.  I struggled to get back to the mark and finally got there in about 25th place.  We reached over to the outer loop and the breeze died even more.  Half way down the run, the Race Committee decided to shorten the course and finsh us at the leeward gates, thus ending any opportunity for a comeback.  I crossed the line in 22nd place.

Overall, it was a difficult and tricky day.  Tomorrow the fleet will be split into Gold and Silver.


First Day of Midwinters

By clay - Posted on 18 February 2010

Today was the first day of the Laser Midwinters East in Clearwater, FL.  We sailed three races today in a dying N-NW breeze (starting at about 15 and dying to about 6) in split fleets.

I was in blue fleet today and started first, sailing the outer trapezoid course.  In the first race, I had a good start near the boat and played the middle right side of the course.  It was pretty shifty at the top of the beat, and I played it decently, losing a couple boats but also picking off a few boats right before the mark.  At the first mark I was in 5th.  I had an ok first run, losing one but gaining one.  Up the second beat, the top three extended a little bit, and I was in a battle for fourth with Raul Aguayo, Cam Cullman, and Andreas Geritzer.  I rounded in fourth at the mark and fourth at the bottom, but Raul had an awesome reach and got by me.  Up the last short beat, I played a few shifts and was able to gain-back Raul, finishing the first race in 4th.

In the second race, I had another good start near the boat.  I tacked in a great wind line and headed out to the right, looking pretty good.  About half way up the guys on the left looked like they were lifting off of me, so I took the first opportunity to come back.  John Bertrand had a great first beat, going pretty hard left to round in first, but I was able to round right on his stern.  Nick Thompson was behind me in 3rd.  On the first downwind, I was able to pull ahead of those guys a bit.  I rounded the gate and headed to the left with Nick close behind me.  I protected the left side of the course which turned out to be pretty favored and was able to pull ahead to a comfortable lead.  I led the rest of the race and finished in 1st place!

After sitting a round in a dying breeze for a while, we finally started our third race.  The pin was really favored and we had a general recall with lots of people pushing the pin end.  I was exposed at like 45 seconds, but didn't think I was over.  I headed back to the pin, but at about 8 seconds realized that I wasn't going to lay so I gybed out and ducked the fleet on port tack.  I salvaged a pretty good beat and rounded the first mark in 7th place.  But after I rounded I looked up and saw a notice board on the mark boat that said I was black-flagged!  Bummer.  So I dropped out of the race and headed in.

So I had a 4-1-BFD on the day.  Tomorrow the breeze is forecasted to be much lighter and shiftier, but hopefully we get some more good racing.

Results can be found here.

More Training in Clearwater

By clay - Posted on 12 February 2010

I've had three more productive days of training here in Clearwater, FL.  Despite the fact that we're in Florida, the weather has not been that great; cold temperatures in the 50s and rain have been the norm here.

The first day, we did a 15 mile downwind sail to John's Pass.  It was blowing about 20-25 knots and there were 6 ft waves.  It was so much fun to do some reaching and see the boats get airborn as the skipped across the waves.  It was really cool.

On the second day, the wind was out of the same direction but at a lighter 5-10 knots.  We decided to do the downwind once more, focusing on the things we learned from the day before.  When it's windy, you don't have to be as precise because it's very easy to ride waves when they are huge and it's windy.  But when it is lighter, it's a lot harder to ride the waves.  Even though the sail took about one and a half times longer, it was really worth it.

Finally today we went out and did a bunch of shorter, 30-minute long races with a larger group.  It was an offshore breeze blowing about 12-20 knots and very shifty.  Fun racing nonetheless though.

The plan is to sail three more days before the Midwinters East regatta starts next Thursday.  Hopefully the weather warms up a bit!


By clay - Posted on 09 February 2010

After the Miami OCR, I took last week off to rest up and recover.  I hung out in Miami, going sailing a few days, but mostly enjoying some downtime.  I went to a Miami Heat basketball game, caught up on some sleep, did some boat work (what little there is in the Laser), and hung out with friends.  It was a relaxing week.

Yesterday, I drove up to Clearwater to begin training again.  I've set up camp here for two weeks, with my stay culminating with the Midwinters East regatta on Februarby 18-21.  Until then, I'll be training here with many of the same guys I trained with this winter.

Today we went sailing for a few hours in 25-30 knots and pouring rain.  It was really intense, but a lot of fun.  There were a few times downwind where all I could do was sit as far back as possible, over-trim the mainsheet, and hold on!  Upwind I was constantly sheeted out multiple feet just to keep the boat flat.  It was great!

The plan for tomorrow is to do a 15 mile downwind run if the wind direction is right.  Pretty soon there will be a lot more international guys arriving so the training group should get quite large and competitive.

Check back for more updates and during the event next week.


Final Day

By clay - Posted on 29 January 2010

Today was the final day of the Miami OCR, and we were able to complete our two races on time.  In the first race, I had a good start near the pin and held all the way to the left.  I got a little lefty and some pressure and tacked to port, crossing most of the fleet.  I was able to hold the angle all the way to the mark and tacked around in 5th place.  On the reach, Kristian Ruth was yellow flagged ahead of me, so I was able to gain another boat.  On the downwind, I broke low and was looking pretty good for awhile, but the breeze filled high at the end of the run and a couple guys caught up  I rounded the mark heading to the right side of the course in about 4th place.  I came back left, but probably a little too late and some more guys caught up.  At the final windward mark I was in 6th.  Another decent run and a reach to the finish, and I had a good start to my day with a 6th place finish.

In the second race, I thought the left was favored again, so I lined up down towards the pin.  It was a black flag start so the fleet was a little timid, but I poked my bow out and went on time.  As we sailed out on starboard everyone kept lifting off of me.  I sailed all the way to the left, trying to come back a few times, but to no avail.  The breeze had shifted far right, and I was in trouble.  I rounded the weather mark with only a few boats behind me.  I was able to pass a few boats on each leg, and played some shifts well up the second beat, but ultimately could only recover to 33rd place.

With my 6-33, I moved up to 21st overall.  It was a tough week though with very difficult conditions.  At this point the only thing I can do is take what I've learned about sailing in Miami and store it for the next time.

This week I'll be hanging out in Miami before moving to Clearwater for some training and the Midwinters East regatta in the middle of February.

Final OCR Results

Day Four of OCR

By clay - Posted on 28 January 2010

Today was the fourth day of the Miami OCR and also the first day of gold fleet.  Much to its reputation, the racing was twice as hard today as the fleet was cut in half and the best guys were all on one line today.  We sailed two races in about 6-10 knots out of the North-Northeast.

In the first race, I had a great start near the pin and continued to the left.  After a few minutes I got headed and took a good opportunity to tack and cross the fleet.  I was in the top five group looking great as we crossed everyone from the right.  As we continued across, the breeze lightened up a little and our angle began to cave.  I looked over my shoulder and saw guys that I had crossed before looking great with pressure and a nice lift further left.  So I hitched out to the left trying to get some of that.  But things went downhill from there.  When I got there the breeze was gone and then the right came in huge.  I was left struggling to get back and ended up rounding the mark in the 30s.  What was more frustrating was that the guys I was with who continued were in the top five at the first mark.  I tried to fight back throughout the race, but 12th to last place were so close that there wasn't much room on the course.  I limped into the finish line in a miserable 40th place.

In the second race, I again got a good start at the pin.  I tacked and crossed the fleet again with the top group and was looking great.  But again, I failed to get in phase at the top of the beat and the guys from the sides got me.  I had a good second beat, picking up 15 boats, but my downwinds were mediocre today and I ended up giving some places back.  I was 24th in the second race.

Overall, the day was quite frustrating.  I think it's important to stick to your side and be patient, especially towards the top of the beats, but I haven't not been doing that.  It doesn't make things easier that every boat in the fleet is a rockstar, so any mistake you make will be jumped upon by others.

Two more races are scheduled for tomorrow.  The game plan is to just go out and hopefully end the regatta on a better note.


A Little Bit Better...

By clay - Posted on 27 January 2010

Two more races were sailed today on the third day of the Miami OCR.  I was in blue fleet today and started first, sailing the outer trapezoid course.

After a few general recalls and postponements, our first race started at about 11:30.  I had a great start near the boat and played a few shifts up the middle right.  I did a good job of connecting the puffs and eventually consolidated across the fleet in first place.  I rounded the windward mark in first with Jesper (SWE), Andreas (AUT), and Tonci (CRO) right behind.  Those guys closed a little on the first reach and downwind, but I was able to pull ahead at the leeward mark and escape from the crowded mark rounding well.  On the second beat I maintained a comfortable 5-10 boat length lead and rounded the last windward mark in first.  On the downwind, Andy, Jesper, and Tonci went lower than I did and got some nice pressure to close the gap.  The four of us were duking it out with someone pulling ahead a little and then the others catching up.  Right at the mark, Andy pulled ahead last to round first.  Tonci just got an overlap on me to round second.  I rounded third and reached into the finish for a third place finish.  While I would have liked to have won the race, I was pleased with my decision making and speed, and the race was a keeper.

In the second race, I had another good start at the boat and tacked quickly to the right.  A lot of people tacked to port shortly after the start and the guys at the pin were looking quite good.  As we all sailed to the right, the fleet caved a little, and I thought that I was looking ok.  But at the top the breeze went left again, and I struggled to get back, rounding in 25th.  I rallied a little on the first downwind and caught up to the 12-18 pack.  I battled with those guys for the rest of the race, ultimately finishing in 16th.

Overall it was a better day, but still not as good as I'd like.  It was very tricky sailing again today:  very difficult to see the pressure and pretty shifty.  Tomorrow is the first day of Gold fleet so hopefully with a few good scores I can make some ground up on the fleet.


Another Tricky Day at the Office

By clay - Posted on 26 January 2010

Today was the second day of the Miami OCR regatta, and the Race Committee ran three races to make up for a short day yesterday.  The breeze was 5-12 knots out of the North-Northeast and was very shifty and very puffy.  The racing was difficult.

All three races I had good starts, but couldn't seem to piece together windward legs.  Sometimes getting leverage on the fleet was important, other times crossing boats when you could was the play, and at time leading the pack to the side worked.  There was no "rule of thumb" for today's racing.  With the exception of a few boats, everyone was pretty inconsistent today.  I tallied a frustrating 13-20-16 and am now in about 30th place.  As of this writing there are definitely some errors in the scores.

Two races are scheduled for tomorrow with similar conditions forecasted.  Hopefully I can turn it around a little.


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